Ceasefire in Southwest Syria Begins

Posted: Jul 09, 2017 8:30 AM

A ceasefire in southwest Syria, negotiated by the United States and Russia, and announced at the G-20 summit, took effect at noon Damascus time Sunday. 

There have been multiple attempts at negotiating a ceasefire in Syria since 2016, and all but one have unraveled. As part of the last attempt, which the United States was not a party to, "de-escalation" zones were created but seem to be ineffective around the capital. 

The current ceasefire agreement creates de-escalation zones as well, but only in southwest Syria, where ISIS militants, Syrian government forces, and rebels backed by the US government are fighting for control. Jordan and Israel are also a part of the truce, but ISIS, understandably, is not.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said there is one big difference between earlier ceasefires and this one.

"I would say that what may be different this time is the level of commitment on the part of the Russian government," Tillerson said. The Russians, he said, "see the situation in Syria transitioning from the defeat of ISIS ... to this discussion with them as to what do we do to stabilize Syria once the war against ISIS is won."

And National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster issued a statement Saturday from Hamburg:

At noon local time tomorrow, a de-escalation zone in southwest Syria will begin to take effect. Such zones are a priority for the United States, and we’re encouraged by the progress made to reach this agreement.

After achieving this hopeful step with the governments of Russia and Jordan, President Trump discussed the agreement with many world leaders at the G20 Summit, including President Erdogan, Prime Minister May, and Chancellor Merkel.

The United States remains committed to defeating ISIS, helping to end the conflict in Syria, reducing suffering, and enabling people to return to their homes. This agreement is an important step toward these common goals.”

With the track record of ceasefires in Syria and the fact that ISIS does not want one, it will be very difficult for this ceasefire to succeed.